5 Characters Who Totally Missed the Moral of Their Own Movie
All of the truly meaningful lessons in life (the importance of love, the trappings of power, the follies of dinosaur cloning) are taught to us by movies. We learn by watching the established heroes of the film either learn a lesson themselves or fight to protect it.
This is why it's so weird when, on occasion, the good guys of the film seem to let the obvious moral that they themselves helped establish whiff by them as they do EXACTLY what they just taught us to never do.
(If you like Jedi you'll love Cracked's adventures in Jedi School mini-series.)
The Jedi Enslave Slaves So the Sith Won't Make Us All Slaves
Star Wars is as basic as good vs. evil gets, and no matter if the evil is the Sith or the Empire, the side of good remains the same in each film. Jedi (the spiritual, bearded hippies of space) want freedom and democracy, and the Sith want to have all the power and all the control, and perhaps explode a planet or two if it suits their needs or seems like it might be fun.
But of course that's what makes them the bad guys and the Jedi the good guys -- while the Sith and Empire won't be content until they hold the entire galaxy in their fists, the Jedi are selfless, thinking only about the well-being of others. After all, you don't see Obi-Wan or Yoda enslaving countless drones of men for their own purposes, right?
What, did you think these guys were salaried?
In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan stumbles onto an army of clones while tracking the bounty hunter Jango Fett (wanted for the attempted assassination of Senator Amidala). The clones have been created in Jango's likeness by order of a Jedi who had died years before the order was placed. Totally not sketchy.
When he contacts the other Jedi and informs them of what's going on, they ask Obi-Wan if he thinks this army is connected to the threat on the senator's life, and in what has to be the least intuitive moment of his Jedi career, Obi-Wan says no.
"Tell you what, we'll just call it in the air: Heads, they're connected. Tails, they're not."
The Jedi seem to agree with this assessment, because this isn't Star Wars: Attack of the Functional, Logical Plot, it's Star Wars: Attack of the KEEP MOVING THE PLOT FORWARD UNTIL GIANT CGI MONSTERS ARE FIGHTING CGI CLONES! So the Jedi Council doesn't dwell on this for a second, and why would they? What would a bunch of clones of the guy who tried to kill the senator have to do with that guy who tried to kill the senator? Did you answer "Probably nothing, I bet"? Congratulations, you're Yoda. As Yoda, you then, after making a few moves in the Senate, use these clones to build your own Grand Army of the Republic.
"Alright, helmets, time for lunch injections!"
And sure, having an entire army is convenient. We get that. But while Yoda was sending wave after wave of mindless clones to their deaths, did anyone stop to consider whether or not enslaving an entire race might be a bad thing or, at the very least, un-Jedi-like behavior? It's true that they were bred for battle and even designed to be genetically obedient, but that doesn't really change the fact that they are sentient slaves of the Republic.
In fact, them being created and designed for self-sacrifice really makes the whole situation that more horrifying. Utilizing the clones just because they've been bred for war isn't better; that's like saying, "No, no, it's cool, they're allowed to be soldier slaves because they've been soldier slaves since they were children."
Broken will to live included.
And they're the good guys!
Lt. Col. Rhodes Puts the Iron Man Suit in the Wrong Hands So It Doesn't Fall into the Wrong Hands
The central conflict in Iron Man: 2 is this: Should Tony Stark be allowed to keep his one-man-army suit to himself or be forced to share it with the government? (The secondary conflict is "Look out, that robot warrior has WHIPS!")
He'll whip you in fucking half!
It's an interesting debate. On one hand, it's kind of a dick move to fly around all by yourself in arc-reactor-powered jet boots and not share that action with the rest of the world (not to mention totally unsustainable as a national defense plan). On the other hand, the rest of the world is full of lunatics who will no doubt use the technology for unspeakable crimes.
Stark decides to keep the armor to himself, but once we get introduced to Ivan Vanko (a combination of Crimson Fury from the comics and whichever one of Mega Man's villains had whips), the U.S. government gets really worried. If some Russian guy can build his own lightning-whip vest in his dank one-roomer, surely North Korea or Iran can eventually figure it out. This is why they call upon Lt. Col. Rhodes, a close friend to Tony, to try to talk Tony into giving up the goods.
Of course, the request is just him asking in the way you'd ask a dog to drop the ball.
Negotiations prove fruitless, as Tony has become more reckless, arrogant, selfish and just all-around douchey. Left with no other choice, Rhodes snatches one of Tony's back-up suits and turns it over to the government who, with the help of Tony's professional rival Justin Hammer, weaponizes the suit further.
Unfortunately for everything except the plot, Hammer has been secretly working with Vanko, the very same wrong hands everyone was worried about the whole film. This makes for many killer robots, followed by the expected explosions and death that would come with such killer robots, and it's up to Tony and Rhodes to team up and save the day.
When the smoke clears, Rhodes, now seeing just what this technology can do in the hands of one maniacal individual, does the responsible thing and returns ownership of the suit to Tony ...
This way, no more than 50 percent of America's military might is controlled by career alcoholics.
... the alcoholic narcissist playboy billionaire.
Sure, early in the movie Tony thought he was dying of some kind of plot-device-related blood poisoning, which might explain away his reckless and erratic behavior. And, sure, he's been cured of the blood poisoning, so it's possible that he'll be less reckless, but still, eventually he's going to actually die, right? And even alive, he's still an asshole. He's still not going to work with the government, even though he's seen what happens when they're forced to blindly fumble around with his inferior competitors. But at least Rhodes knows better, right?
"OK, what haven't I exploded yet?"
Wrong. When the film ends, we last see Rhodes flying off, playfully telling Tony that he plans to borrow the suit and take on the role of War Machine. Even though the entire movie highlighted the dangers of giving total power to an individual, Rhodes is fine with that as long as he's the individual with the power. This is like a teacher insisting that a student share his gum with the rest of the class, but then decides it's OK as long as HE gets a stick. Only in this case the gum can kill people with missiles.
Ethan Hunt Is Fooled Not Once, Not Twice, but Four Times in Mission Impossible
With all its ridiculous plot twists and ultra-action, it's hard to imagine any coherent moral lesson coming from a series of films that play out less like spy movies and more like an imaginary playground game. Even the name of Hunt's agency, Impossible Mission Force, sounds more like something scrawled onto the side of a treehouse than onto a government-run building.
"Our front company is the International Monetary Fund."
But the movies are fun to watch. And there is one clear through line: Ethan is a good spy and a good man who loves his country and the company he works for.
Even though that company is fucking terrible.
First of all, Ethan gets wrongfully disavowed and hunted down by IMF in two of the three films, making them statistically more harmful than helpful. On top of that, in all three of these movies the bad guy is actually an agent for the IMF. All three films. This means that every problem of the series could go away if the agency had simply called it quits sometime in the '80s.
HE'S STILL WORKING FOR THEM!
You can tell just from the preview alone that Hunt is back to his old ways of running on the sides of tall things while in a constant state of explosion-caused propulsion. He is once more working for the IMF and from the looks of it is once more disavowed by them.
Look, it's one thing when your bosses repeatedly fuck up, it's another thing when they fuck up AND treat you like garbage -- and boy do they treat him like some salty garbage in the third film, when Ethan's boss learns that he led an unauthorized mission to successfully capture a known enemy because of information he withheld from the agency. So what does he get? Paid leave? A demerit of some kind?
Nope! A sweet mouth patch!
Oh OK, Hannibal mask it is then.
By the third film, you'd think that after Hunt had saved the world twice in the past they would perhaps listen to what he has to say instead of instantly gagging him and assuming he's turned bad, but then again we're talking about an agency that has had a different boss for every damn film.
The newest is played by Metallica.
So after all that, he's learned absolutely nothing. It would be one thing if Ethan Hunt was like James Bond, who has absolutely no passion outside of his work and therefore would pursue adventure after adventure -- but we've seen just the opposite from him up to this point. He's even married and completely in love in MI:3 -- why wouldn't he just quit or work for literally any company that won't repeatedly disavow him and consistently hire traitors? There are so many companies that hardly ever do either of those things, Ethan. NYPD. FBI. Sports Authority. So many, Ethan. What's it going to take to get you to realize that IMF is the crazy ex-girlfriend of jobs?
Superman Is for Truth, Justice and the American Way! (When It's Convenient)
Well there is no moral -- he is the moral. He's a super ... man. This Metropolis Marvel is pretty much the poster boy for goodness, right? And not just any goodness -- Truth, Justice and the Mahfuckin' American Way! He ignores personal gain; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and all that.
It's really the whole point of Superman -- he's there to show us that you can be both powerful and good, unlike Lex Luthor, who has let what power he has corrupt him into a search for personal gain. Superman is selfless, the son of a powerful father who was brought onto this Earth to show human beings their potential for love and kindness.
And to build wicked snow forts.
Well, he lies ... he lets criminals get away ... he's not helping the country at all. Seriously, how is that not evident?
OK, these are big accusations -- so let's take them one by one.
So he is for truth, huh? Like, truth as in not lying, right? So who is this guy then?
Spoiler: The guy in the middle is actually Superman.
That would be Clark Kent, the normal guy that Superman lies about being every day of his life. OK, it's a little nitpicky -- after all, he has to protect himself and his loved ones and all that, right? However, since he can't tell people he's Superman, he must at least level the playing field and refrain from abusing his powers while in Clark Kent mode. You wouldn't play poker with the guy you knew could see through shit, so surely if Superman isn't going to fess, he has to make sure not to abuse his anonymity ... right?
Wait, wouldn't his X-ray vision just show him bones? We admit, we don't know how X-rays work.
See, that's when things get a little ... well, scumbaggy. It would be one thing if he used his powers every now and then to stop a vase from falling or something like that, but he uses his powers ALL THE FUCKING TIME as Clark. He abuses the fuck out of his powers, and not just for your everyday looking at tits, either; he does it to literally stalk Lois Lane. In the first film, he actually looks through Lois' purse using his X-ray vision. She calls him on it and he says he made a lucky guess like the liar that he is. He watches her in elevators and listens in on her conversations in the newest film. It's fucked.
Oh, and check him out floating over her house watching her family have supper, the dream of every ambitious stalker everywhere:
Nothing says "I love you" like rape eyes through a locked window.
So, truth aside ... what else are we left with? Justice, right?
This seems like a no-brainer. Superman catches the bad guys and puts them in jail. Justice is served!
But here's the thing -- as revealed in the last film, Lex Luthor gets out of prison not by escaping ... no, he gets out of jail because Superman isn't so great at the little things, like "Miranda rights," "due process" and "making your court date." Yeah, turns out you just can't fly up to a jail and toss a bad guy in like he does to Lex in the first movie. And from the sounds of it, Superman does none of that. In fact, he isn't really legally allowed to arrest anyone, is he? In the eyes of the law he must just be a vigilante, so anyone who gets caught by him can easily wiggle their way out, which makes you wonder if anyone actually goes to jail because of Superman.
"Sorry, Mr. Luthor. Enjoy your lawsuit settlement."
Doc Brown Learns Absolutely Nothing in Back to the Future
There is a lot to be taken from this series. Doc and Marty's adventures taught a whole generation that while you can't let people walk all over you, you need to know when to back down from a taunt. It taught that the future isn't written yet. It taught that the power of love is tougher than diamonds and rich like cream, stronger and harder than a bad girl's dream. We could actually go on and on about the power of love, however the strongest moral no doubt taught by these films is rather simple: Don't fuck around with time travel.
Seriously don't do it.
While Doc himself may be rather eccentric, this moral is certainly not missed on him, as throughout the series he frequently reminds himself of this -- saying shit like, "I wish I'd never invented that infernal time machine. It's caused nothing but disaster."
"If only there were a way to go back and not invent it ..."
This regret becomes especially evident in the third film when Doc and Marty save a woman from falling into a ravine. This woman, Clara, they learn, was supposed to die in that fall, meaning that they have just saved a life that wasn't supposed to be saved, which is a bit of a no-no when it comes to time travel.
Luckily Clara has a vagina open for business, and she and Doc end up in love, hanging behind in the Wild West, quietly trying to stay out of time's way. Marty makes it back to 1985, destroying the DeLorean in the process. The film closes with Marty standing over the wreckage saying, "Well Doc ... it's destroyed ... just like you wanted."
The end. Right?
WAAAH? AHHHH! Is that a flying train?
GAH! He built flying children, too?!
So ... OK ... what? Doc returns back to 1985 dressed like he's Willy Wonka to give Marty a little hello, in broad daylight in a giant flying train. Huh. He now has kids with his wife who technically shouldn't even exist in the first place, and he's somehow harnessed the power of the steam engine to once again bend space-time.
After a brief and surprisingly not-awkward visit, the Brown family prepares to depart, but not before Marty asks Doc where he is going next, speculating that he must be going to the future. Doc happily dismisses this, saying, "Nope, already been there!"
The train blasts off, leaving Marty and his girlfriend no doubt thrilled that Doc has decided to take his bizarro steampunk family-train roaring into the past to do GOD KNOWS WHAT.
Jesus shit, Doc! You had two directions -- forward in time and back in time. One of those directions already has flying machines in it, and the other direction has your great-grandfather and the great-grandfathers of everyone you know -- and you choose going in the direction that could kill everybody? Thanks, Doc! Surely Marty will have no problem sleeping at night knowing that you're hovering over the pilgrims or Abe Lincoln with your giant prototype flying snake, perpetually gambling the possibility of paradoxing the world into oblivion.
... of the universe!
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David is a freelance writer and aspiring screenwriter who spends most days moderating in the Cracked Comedy Workshop and watching movies. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check him out over at Film School Rejects, where he is a weekly contributor.
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